Secret HQ

art (c) Mike Trap


Red Wedding

Summer 2003 brings us the marriage of Silver Jet and the Pi Tui (the Queen of the Ice Pagoda).  The set gets its name from the blood outcome of the event.

The cards that jump right out at first glance are the new foundations characters.  The two most game altering are Little Grasshopper and Mad Scientist -- they are going to create some new deck archetypes.  If you haven't figured it out already, the era of 2+ cost foundations is over, and you are only playing them because they have amazing abilities, or a crucial designator.

As you look deeper into the set, you will find that there is an imbalance in its chi - denial seriously outnumbers punch through.  Unfortunately, this is going to continue the trend of longer games.  On a positive note, it does add denial possibilities for jank decks, making them a little more competitive.  I wish there was a little more offensive capability in the set, but that's life

Overall, I think Red Wedding is a good set and will be well received.  The standout cards are the commons, with a lot of dreck reserved for uncommon and rares.  It will change how the game is played, but that is mainly due to the new foundations and just a few other cards.

Artillery Strike
This card looks to have the potential to do a decent amount of damage early game.  If you do nothing, you can start your 2nd turn with 3 power, letting you drop two foundations as well as an Artillery Strike, totaling 6-10 damage, which is a potential second turn burn.  I think this card will be stronger in dueling, but has a home in Supercomputer decks, and might replace Orbital Laser Strike in Tech-light Architect decks.
Assassin Bug
The Bug is a variation on the Gnarled Horror (which is a total coaster), but it has the main advantage of being an Abomination, and can be recycled by Reinvigoration Process.  While it's not stellar, it can give a little bit a grief to your opponents.  Where I would expect it to do best is in dueling, where you aren't going to have to worry about all of your opponents ganging up on your Assassin Bug.
One- third a Feast of Souls at one-fourth the price.  I've grown to like We Have the Technology, and this card fills a similar niche.  In my Technology deck, I like to sit on power, and drop a bomb or Laser Strike with the counters, and don't concentrate heavily on characters.  I think you want to use Bio-Salvage in a deck that is more heavy on the character side.  Get a couple of these out, and recycling your Abominations (especially Midnight Whisperer and Assassin Bug) should get you steamrolling.
Black Ops Team
For those of you familiar with MTG, this card is almost a Nekretaal.  You are hoping to smoke an opponent's character when this enters play.  Your opponent is going to try all sorts of tricks, so you might need a little backup -- if your the loser of the Faceoff, you will have just spent 4 power to 6 damage.
Bouncing Benji
This card doesn't quite do it for me.  2 damage for 1 power is a decent deal, but the two resource requirement is a killer -- this card isn't a resource speed bump like Midnight Whisperer or Arcanowave Researcher.  The reload ability on this card is kinda bland, but you can use it to discard your entire hand if you want to draw a lot of cards on your next turn.
BuroMil Scout
While this is a card for your weenie-horde soldier deck, it doesn't jump out at me.  Note that its ability goes away when it does, so it's bound to be intercepted by another foundation character, shrinking the damage your army does.  I think you are better off saving 1 more power, and going for the Reinforcer if you want a steady damage bonus.  Yes, you can hit for 9 damage if you Inauspicious Return 3 Scouts, but that damage is too fragile and doesn't have much change of making it through unless you've cleared the board with a Neutron Bomb.
Dr. Jean-Marc Ngubane
This is a pretty janky specialty card.  With 4 Fighting, Dr Ngubane is probably going to live longer than The Prof, but spending 3 power on a Back for Seconds is hefty.  You might be able to slow up an opponent playing Monarchs, but that is unreliable.  I think I'm going to go with Bonengel over this card most of the time.
Helix Mine
Here we have a twist on the old standard Helix Chewer.  It's not going to clog up your hand, but then again, you aren't going to be able to use it over and over.  I might play it, but only if I'm in a metagame where there are lots of look at hands effects (which have been slowly been increasing in numbers as the sets pile up).  Think about how often you see Resistance Squad triggered -- it it's reasonably often, then you might want to consider Helix Mine.
Loyalty Officer
This is a foundation character you never want to draw early game.  As a foundation, it stinks -- it's nothing but an Alpha Beast with a different set of designators.  The best use for Loyalty Officer is to hold in your hand as a counter to Shadowy Mentor and Tortured Memories, but it's also good when you need to take a site when there's a pesky Fox Pass on the board and you don't have the Whirlpool advantage to stop it.
Napalm Belcher
This is a tough card to get a handle on.  The Belcher's ability is basically a reusable Napalm Sunrise.  In Event form, it's not very good, but it might have potential as a character, especially if you can get out multiples.  Your opponents are going to gang up on your Napalm Belchers in multiplayer, so I think this card might be most useful in dueling.
Tracer Implant
Here we have Brain Bug 2003.  At 0 cost and only a single Architect resource, it's playable, but I'm unsure to what effect.  It has the possibility of stopping up an opponent's character, but I don't think you will be doing too much effective unturning.  It might be okay in dueling, where every little bit counts, and having an extra character to defend might just let you get out that second column and protect it.
War of Attrition
Unless you have no characters in play, War of Attrition is going to cost you 2 power, if not more.  It's not going to be that good in an environment where there's lots of build up, but if characters are getting smoked left and right keeping the number in play low, you might be able to do something with this card.  Don't play one in response to an effect that smokes (like itself), as people can choose the same card twice.  This card will probably be better in a four card game based on the economy of scale, but I suspect most of the time the opportunity cost will be too high to get the desired effect (i.e. as good as Nerve Gas or Imprisoned).

Broken Wheel Brigade
At first glance this card looks good, but you have to stop a moment and think about what cards you are going to be discarding to trigger it?  You might have an extra early game Event/State/Edge that you would be discarding anyways, but a lot of the time, the card will be of more use in play, especially by mid game.  I don't think this card is going to break the hold that Family Estate has.
Corrupt Bookie
Wow, here we have a real stinker.  I think this card is about on par with Mountain Warrior.  If you want to have fun with your opponents, play Triumvirate Dealmaker.  If you need to generate power, stick to Swiss Bankers.  I don't think you even want this card in a faceoff deck -- you want cards like Military Commandant that are going to help you win a faceoff, not punish you when you lose.
Jan Zvireci
While this card is marginally better than Corrupt Bookie, when are you ever playing it?  If your opponent has a good Event that they are worried about you playing, they are just going to play it in response to Jan Zvireci entering play (probably targeting him, too).  And don't expect Jan to stick around very long, as he is a threat card, and doesn't defend himself well.  Yeah yeah Fortune of the Turtle and Safehouse -- whatever.  You have to spend the power on the Event too, so it's very sketchy denial.
Hrm, a new Re-Ascended character that isn't much better than the existing ones.  And real expensive, too.  Sure, it's a character killing machine, but don't the Ascended just have better ways to deal with characters?  He doesn't really combo with much, so I'm going Ursus over the bad snake dude.
Yeesh, and I thought Jormungandr was boring.  The Shark is pretty close to Spencer's Beauties, but worse.. Yes, Kauhuhu has an out of faction ability, Independent, but just doesn't have much else going for it.  This is the type of card that you want to Golden Comeback, but that means you are playing Dragons, and you are going to have better stuff to be bringing back.
Lodge Machinations
This card has a lot of evil potential.  It's expensive, but changing up the denial on the board prior to an attack sounds like a game winner.  Some advice -- don't stack your deck with bad sites to give to your opponents with Lodge Machinations.   That's just a formula for disaster.  Play useful sites and play this event when it's smart, not just at the first opportunity.  I expect that City Park will be a good one to be giving away (reveal it first).  Also, be sure to include a Drug Lab and Nuclear Power Plant  -- there might some tasty Non-FSS to grab up like Secret HQ or Senshei Chamber, and you can turn the Nuke's disadvantage into an advantage locking up an opponent's turning site.  Too bad this card is rare =(
Official Harassment
In case you were wondering what to do with all of those Pledged you've been pumping out with your Family Estate, here is your answer.  Okay, you probably were doing something with those Pledged already, but Official Harassment is a nice new option.  As long as you can play a foundation a turn, you are going to be able to lock down an opponent's character, hopefully their best hitter.  This State is going to turn all of your characters into a potential Muckraking Journalist.  While I think this is going to be good overall, it might be marginally better in dueling.
Rebecca Dupress
This card is kind of hard to get a handle on.  Rebecca's ability is a combo ability, so you are going to need States to get the most of out it.  The Ascended don't have a lot of Character States that you are going to want to play on your own characters, so you are going to have to look to other factions, talents, and unaligned cards to make her work.  It's really too early to predict what will and won't work with this card.
Shell Game
This card looks very interesting.  The target (almost always going to be yourself) is going to get the worst two cards from the top three of your deck.  And if someone other than the player to your left is going for the win, your opponent just may let you keep some denial like an Op Killdeer (to go with the one already in your hand that you're hiding).  Note that there may be some funky stuff you can do with Shell Game and cards that Reload, especially as more are added in future sets.
Spin Doctoring
This card I just cant quite figure out.  It's going to get you back some good cards (you aren't playing bad cards, are you?), but who knows how often.  You can use it with your foundations, but you might get some mileage out of Family Estate and cheap Pledged, but it's going to be hard to really see if this card will do much of anything for you.  Watch out for opponents with Underworld Trackers -- it will surely ruin your day.
The Enemy of My Enemy
To me, this looks a lot more reliable than Spin Doctoring.  As long as you have power, you can have cards.  Also, like with the Chinese Connection, giving power to an opponent can sometimes be a good thing if they can use the power to stop an attack or take down another player.  Yes, you do lose a bit on the power scale, but you should make up for it in tempo -- your opponent has reduced their denial, and you have drawn two cards.

Ashes of the Fallen
At 3 resources required, Ashes is going to be pretty much relegated to mono Dragon decks, but there are plenty of those to go around.  It's more focused than it's cousin Fighting Spirit, so you get to control what Event you are getting back.  This works especially well for decks with lots of multiples (i.e. 5 Final Brawls).  I think you still want Fighting Spirit in a diverse deck (along with a few Ashes of the Fallen), and maybe also in multi-faction decks, but you usually aren't recycling events as much in that case.
Bei Tairong
Can of Whupass anyone?  While the +1 damage ability is gravy, Bei is still better than the 3 cost hand superleaper, Righteous Bro -- what's up with that?  By herself, Bei is of general use, along with other 3 cost uniques like Hiro Asataka and Dirk, but where this card shines is in the Can of Whupass deck, where you wind up with a 3-cost 8 Fighting Superleaper... yikes!
Big Bruiser vNew
Not bad, but not good either.  It's an infinite improvement over the original, but no has played that one in years.  The new Big Bruiser seems like it's a good character to give to newbies so they can have some beef in their decks, along with some Mentor defense, without having to go for a lot of heavy hitting rares.  And if you haven't figured it out already, this guy loves Final Brawls.
"Bring It"
This is a funky combo card, but I don't exactly know what to combo it with.  Bring It is a Reloadable Righteous Protector.  At 1 cost it's sort of okay for a single use some of the time (this is really 2+ cost if you consider the character eating the damage).  You also have that one-use Guts, which could also help out in a pinch (and is a good surpise)  While it's unique, you can Reload Bring It late game when you have surplus power and need to get some damage through.  The card is rare, and only goes in Hand/Dra decks, but I do expect to see it every no and then.  Thanks to Simon Johnston for pointing out that Marisol has been given errata, so you can't do cool tricks with her.
Gus Andropolous
Gus is pushing the curve, which you sort of want in a 2-cost character.  He does require 3 resources, but he gives you 3 fighting.  Historically, this ratio has come with a drawback or no significant ability, but Gus is different.  Independent is solid as we all know, and looking at your opponents' hands can give you the edge you need to pull of a victory.  Gus' third ability is gravy, but people are going to think twice before looking at your hand.  And remember, Gus is going to love Can of Whupass, becoming a 2-cost 7 Fighting monster.
"Is That All You Got?"
Yikes!  I guess Golden Comeback wasn't good enough!  Using this card is going to depend a lot on your deck.  It's a natch for the Whupass deck, but it has it's place in other decks, especially when you are running a lot of mid-range or specialty characters.  Spending 1 power to bring a character is a lot better than spending 2.  This card is similar to Inauspicious Return in power level.  There are a million and one good cards to bring back -- from Dark Traveler to Nine Cuts (which makes "Is that All You Got?" practically a Nerve Gas).
Mano a Mano
Bleech.... another blas´┐Ż' faceoff.  Sure, you might be able to do some extra damage, but there are similar janky Dragon events (Fast As Lightning and Fists of Fury) that are about on the same power level and never see play.  If the damage was to any character in play (notice that Monkey vs. Robot lets you pick any site) it might be a little better, but it's not, so it ain't.
Never Surrender
***Broken Card Alert***
Expect to see this card in every Dragon deck -- it's that good.  It gets to count towards victory (see the RW rulescard) and can generate you power sometimes as well.  This card is very similar to City Park, but with a little extra kick.  I could be wrong, but I think Never Surrender will have a major impact on the game of Shadowfist.  While it hasn't been completely determined yet, this card could potentially be a tournament winner based on tie-breaks (a card in your BFV is 3pts, where sites in play are only 2).
***End Broken Card Alert***
Reluctant Hero
This card seems interesting on the surface, but without some sort of backup to get him through, he's not going to trigger as often as you like.  If there's an open target, you can hit it once, then send some resource characters on suicide missions to hope and unturn him, but that's almost like playing 1 power for a Back for Seconds.  Also, he does no good if he's smoked as part of the unsuccessful attack (or gets Killdeered).  Still, 3-for-4 Fighting Independent is a lot better than the old days (remember Dragon Fighter?), and he might see a little play.
Ring of Silver
Gack... this is a rare?  For the life of me, I can't figure why the card just doesn't give you Guts permanently, leaving the really hard to pull off gravy ability of Back for Seconds as the turn ability.  This goes in the janky Dragon/Monarch Red Wedding theme deck, and not much else.  Yes, you can play it for free with Kar Fai's Crib, but why aren't you playing better stuff like Claws on the Dragon or Real Bad Cat?
Wandering Hero
Math is hard, and keeping track of this guy's fighting is going to be even harder.  He's going to go up and down fairly often, and you might be overlooking a fighting that he should have every now and then.  In a good case scenario, he's 3-cost for 5-fighitng, and I bet you can find other stuff to fill that gap.  All the 3-cust uniques are generally better, Silver Band is always 5 fighting, and Netherworld Vet is going to be as big if not bigger most of the time.
Wedding Gifts
More jankiness, this card can at least go into any Dra/Mon deck.  Notice the super-tech of playing only Silver Jet to get the off faction resource (or the original Ice Queen in any deck with Dragons).  I'm not sure how much of a power boost this is going to give you -- it could be a lot or a little.  Either way, it's going to be hard call as to whether to go with Wedding Gifts, Pocket Demon or Dirk Wiseley's Gambit for some primo alternate power generation.  This card is a one-shot, so I don't think I'd play two unless it was in a huge deck.  You do get to prance around and say "look what the happy couple got!" whenever you do play it, so that's gotta be worth something...

While this card looks cheaper than Tortured Memories, it's still a 2 power swing -- you are -1, and your opponent is +1 (although costing you only 1 can be huge).  That said, I think there is going to be a place for Bribery in a lot of Lotus decks.  It doesn't replace tortured, it just gives you additional options, and I would take a look at your local meta-game to see how much usage you can get out of it.  The event is just made for Ravenous Devourer, where you are going to be munching up the junk you steal. 
Demonic Plague
I'm not so sure about this card.  In multiples it can start clogging up your hand size, but playing only a couple in your deck can clear out some early junk or get in some free damage.  I think this card will play somewhat like Helix Chewer.  Who knows, this could be the ultimate card Red Wedding is remembered for, going in every Lotus deck, unbalancing the game when drawn first turn.
Evil Whispers
This one is kind of sketchy.  It requires magic, so you need to think about your resource characters.  It doesn't replace Pocket Demon as a comeback card, and it doesn't have the raw power of Glimpse of the Abyss (which also combos with a lot of cards that work when you are farther from victory).  It might be okay as a speed bump card since it can be triggered off of opponents playing their third Feng Shui or the majority of the non-FSS.  Definitely better in four-player, where you have a reasonable chance of it not staying in your hand for more than a turn.
Juedeng Shelun vNew
The Ghostly Juedeng doesn't seem so bad - he's sort of a 4-for-7 Fight, that has the chance to improve the ratio if he sticks around.  You aren't getting back the displayed, but you are getting back Malachi and some other specialty characters.  The Dragons seem like a natural pairing with Juedeng, as you can get back Chinese Doctor, Consumer on the Brink and Scrappy Kids.
Since he doesn't provide magic, I don't think Ogre will make the cut.  Compare this guy to Low-Rent Cyborg -- he provides a talent and always hits for 5.  You also get to recycle him with In Your Face Again/There's Always One More.  Ogre you get to play for free if someone steals power or a character from you -- this is just a free play, not a cancel like Hacker.  Do you see the difference?  You might actually want to pay 3 power for the Cyborg, whereas you almost never want to pay for Ogre, meaning it's just going to sit in your hand.
Red Dragon Troupe
I'm not getting very excited over this card (although JerO's art is really cool).  They have a somewhat usable evasion ability.  The obvious card to use with them is Demonic Plague, but there is also Infernal Plague in faction, as well as the always useful pingers (White Disciple, Purist Sorcerer and Malachi).  Going mulitfaction, dropping a brawl before playing the Red Dragon Troupe is going to let them through, but you're going to have to choose your target carefully  since you are only doing 4 damage.
Shamanistic Punk
Not too much to say about this card.  You are probably more likely to do +1 damage than you are to do -1 damage, but this ability is pretty much ignorable.  This card is a second Sinister Priest, and that means you will probably only ever be playing Earth Poisoner/Eunuch Underling in designator decks.  This guy gets a little competition from Palace Guards -- you may not want to play the full 10 1-cost talent providers, choosing to slip in a few of the returning Guards instead.
Ten Thousand Agonies
T-Dogg pointed out that this card is a lot like Dirk Wisely -- it's a trick card to do a lot of damage for less power.  If you can clear the way, you are going to hit for a lot.  If you get intercepted, you're not.  The card should also play like Sergeant Blightman, and you're going to want a Sacred Heart Hospital to make sure he hits for 9.  Simon Johnston from the UK pointed out to me that Ten Thousand Agonies works pretty well with Amulet of the Turtle -- you can absorb damage at the normal rate, but the only the overspill is +1.
Throne of Skulls
This might gain you a little power, but by the time you get the resources out and get this in to play, I don't know how much game will be left to gain power from this.  Remember that this doesn't trigger off of Sacrifice, so you can't steal and much stuff and gain power.  Simon Johnston pointed out that Throne of Skulls has potential when played in combination with The Destroyer, Rev. Paine and using Big Brother Tsien as foundation.
Verminous Rain
I think this card is strong.  Early game, you are using Verminous Rain to speed bump a Gambling House or other site that is giving a quick boost to an opponent.  Late game you can reload this and use it to punch through for a win.  Notice that it cancels all sites, not just those that turn (such as Puzzle Gardens and Temple of the Angry Spirits).  It at all possible, you want to avoid toasting The Destroyer, Underworld Trackers and Palace Guards when reloading.
Wasting Curse
I think this is the next Underworld Presence.  You play Wasting Curse when you want to annoy your opponents without really winning.  It effects your own characters too, so it's a real downer.  It's not limited, so you could get 5 of these in play if you are an evil bastard.

"Bring It"
See the entry under Dragons.
Buddhist Monk
If it weren't for Little Grasshopper, this card would see reasonable play.  It's still not bad, turning into a Walking Corpses (or more) late game in the right kind a deck - by that I mean a site heavy deck like a Senshei Chamber deck or Big China which features lots of Trade Centers.  This card has several useful designators (Monk, Martial Artist) so it gets affected by a bunch of Hand cards that trigger off of them.  This card pretty much outclasses the Noodle Lady, and I'm going to miss her cool Quentin Hoover art.
Green Sage
I put this into the coaster pile, where it can use it's Toughness to protect your wood table from embarrassing stains.  What were they thinking with this card?  For 3 power you should be getting something a lot better.  Since the effect is localized, it's not going to let you attack.
Leaping Tiger Troupe
The Troupe has the problem of having to live up to the bar set by the Ba-roken Monkey.  Drawing a couple of cards just doesn't quite make it.  I've played Old Uncle a bunch, and it's a useful ability, but there are so many other Hand/Chi effects for getting cards, I don't see the Tigers getting that much play.  This picture matches up with Red Dragon Troupe, and would make a cool print.
Little Grasshopper
Say "hello chi."  This card is going to change a lot of stuff.  With up to 10 1-cost chi providers, the Hand and all those heavy chi cards are going to be everywhere.  'nuff said.
Orange Sage
While this card is a little better than his green brethren, he's still a little touchy.  Getting back cards is good (it normally costs you a power per card), and if you get back a couple, this guy has paid himself off.  Of course, not getting back Hand or Chi cards is going to be very limited.  I've become a big fan of Orange Senshei chamber (it's almost always like a Temple of Celestial Mercy), and it does reduce the Orange Sage's cost to a more reasonable 2.
Ornamental Garden
This is a tricky card.  At first glance, you might think this card is a power generating card that you can use to ramp up your own sites - BZZZT!  wrong-o!  What Ornamental Garden really does is help you take sites by letting you do double damage.  Blue Monk is going to be doing a respectable 8 damage if you drop one of these States on a Site mid-attack.  It's sort of like Geo-Scan report, but works better with less attackers.  Plan on burning/smoking the site you play this on, as it will be darn hard to defend if you place it in your front row.
Secrets of Shaolin
Here we have some borderline jank.  Note the Main Shot restriction on Secrets of Shaolin -- this means you wont be stopping the most commonly encountered 0-cost events, the alternate power generation trio (Pocket Demon, Violet Meditation and Scrounging).  Confucian Stability is still going to be your main Event control card.  Playing Secrets of Shaolin is a metagame decision -- if a couple of your opponents are prone to playing a lot of 0-cost events, then supplementing your deck with one or two of these is worth trying out.  Red Wedding also has some new 0-costers, and that might make Secrets of Shaolin marginally playable.
The Orange Principle
The best thing this Event has going for it is that it doesn't trigger Hacker.  The Hand have a couple of other filter/draw cards, but this one seems to be okay.  You will need to have surplus power to burn, but The Orange Principle can get you out of a stall or let you draw a needed card.  It looks to be better in Tower of Power decks (100+ cards) where you have a big mix -- you don't want to be playing (or drawing) this very-late game, when you are going to have a lower chance of drawing the same cards you put back. 

Black Market Connections
This Edge seems pretty nutsy-cukoo - it has the potential to gain you a lot of power and/or cards.  It's going to be better in 4-player, and I probably wouldn't play it in dueling.  You are going to have to build your deck around it, eschewing limited and unique sites, but that isn't too hard.  Two sites common to Jammer decks are Proving Ground and Turtle Island, both of which should be okay with BMC.  Puzzle Garden and City Park are also general purpose sites that you can load up on when trying to make Black Market Connections work.  Note that this isn't going to trigger off them playing face up non-FSS sites because they are never revealed. 
Blow Things Up!
There isn't much strategy to this card -- pick a site and watch it go boom.  Well, there is a little -- you can use it to get denial sites off the board prior to declaring an attack.  You also can blow up an annoying front row site (Temple or non-FSS) to open up a potential target.  The card is somewhat balanced at 2-cost, but becomes real strong when you are using Genocide Lounge to cut that cost in half.  I prefer Disco Inferno because it's almost as good at smoking sites, is cheaper, and can be used mid-attack to soften a target to allow an unexpected seize or burn.  Also you can use this in a tournament right as the judge is calling time to change the tie-break and maybe sneak a victory.
Bobo Splitter
You might be able to do some fun stuff with this card, but it's iffy.  It does damage to all your characters (including the subject) so it can be a suicidal card.  It's sort of along the lines of Parting Gift, but is easier to use (and less of a surprise sometimes).  The reload cost on this guy is somewhat high, but reloading 5 of these towards the endgame would be kind of fun..
Brass Monkey
Whatever you do, don't play the card if Quyen is in the game -- he will start singing the Beastie Boys song of the same name, and if you've ever heard him sing -- shudder!.  The usefulness of this card is going to depend on your metagame -- if you are playing UK style where there is a slow build up and everyone has lots of power, the Brass Monkey is not going to get you very far.  If you play West Coast Style, the card is a little better.  You can solidify your power advantage in a tight game.  While this card has a high Reload cost, it can be useful late game when you are running out of cards and characters with somewhat high fighting are at a premium.
Say the name of this card out loud to yourself.  Gesundheit!  Very splotchy.  I might include one in a deck when I'm meta-gaming, but that's about it.  You don't want to be playing either magic or chi cards, so that is going to limit your multi-factioning.  I think I'd always go with Temple of the Monkey King over Chizu for it's versatility (not to mention the surprise of revealing it).
Frag the G!
G in this place I believe stands for grenade.  Since it only effects opponents' sites, you don't have to worry about your own site mix (like you do with Black Market Connections).  This seems that it's just meant for the Burn Baby Burn deck, and is also going to go well with Monkey Wrenching, but both of those aren't the best.  Also watch out for opponents with sites reduced down to 1 body -- if they can turn them, no one is going to be able to attack them successfully.
Friends in Low Places
Just too slow to be of much good.  And requiring two factions limits how many decks you can put this into.  The Dragons and the Jammers already have access to some good power generating cards.  And, with the addition of Mad Scientist, playing IKTV Special Report is going to be pretty easy.
Mad Scientist
Well, this is the card that everyone has been waiting for.  The secret war has changed, and the Jammers have primo access to tech.  Well, not primo-primo (like the other talent-dependent factions that have two 1-cost talent providers), but pretty close.  I think this is going to be the hardest card to trade for in Red Wedding, as you only get 2-3 per box, and everyone is going to want 5+ of them.
Monkey vs. Robot
This is the best of the new faceoffs, and possibly the best faceoff to date.  It's got a reasonable effect for the winner, and you can often play it for free with Genocide Lounge.  Disco Inferno is still better overall, but you might be able to do something with Monkey vs. Robot.  Note the extra excitement of being able to draw a card with Mo' Monkeys Mo' Problems.  Close Call is going to help you win those faceoffs.
Sonic Reducer
This State is sort of like Ambush, but it works on offense as well as defense.  It's going to work pretty well in combination with Close Call, but that requires some spare power (and the cards in hand).  You can try combining it with superleap (not the dreadful Flying Monkey Squad) by mixing Hand/Jammers, which might just now be doable with Mad Scientist. 
"There's Always One More..."
Holy Cow Batman!  What were they thinking?  "There's Always One More.." looks to be one of the power cards in Red Wedding.  It's In Your Face Again's evil twin, but much better.  Sure, it costs a power, but you can often negate that with the Lounge.  And, unlike IYFA, you don't have to play it only during your turn.  You are going to want to play the usual suspects like Plains of Ash to keep your Smoked Pile tight.  Tyler Childers let me know that at GenCon this card gained the nickname Whack-a-mole -- I like it!
Well, he's better than Red Don... maybe.  You're never going to trigger him in a duel, and you really want Two-Face in a four player game.  No one is ever going to play a character that will trigger him, so the best you can ever hope for is stealing two 1-cost the turn you play him.  The power shift is funky to figure out, but theoretically you are paying 1 power for 5 fighting, but the opportunity is way high.  At least you don't have to maintain Two-Face to keep the characters.
Violence Junkies
By itself, this card lives up to it's name, and is quite junky.  Remember that it's a 3 cost-for-5 Fighting with a disadvantage if you play it from your hand.  You can try and use other factions character stealers (I like Peasant Leader, but both the Hand and the Lotus have several) to turn the sacrifice into a semi-advantage (the sacrifice needs to be unturned).  I'm not big on returning them to play because they are still just 5 fighting with a disadvantage -- most of the time returning another character that you spend 3 power on (Dallas Rocket or even his Funkiness).

Akani Hideo
This guy is funky.  He's rare, which is good because you will only want a few, but it's bad, because he could become another Fo Shen where you seem to open him every 3rd booster.  The obvious combo is with Proving Grounds -- with Akani Hideo in play you won't have to worry about your opponents shutting you down.  But, if your metagame is Whirlpool heavy, you might consider throwing him in a deck that has a lot of turning sites.  Also, he can aggravate your local Guiding Hand player by invalidating his Confucians.  Note that there is some weirdness in the Red Wedding FAQ about him and the cards that Cancel and Smoke.
Arena Warrior
If you haven't figured it out, this card might as well have Assassinate.  It's a moderate utility character that's saving grace is that it can be recycled by Thunder Squires.  Sure, you're playing a couple in a Thunder deck, and you're going to try him in the new Thunder Faceoff deck (where you're going to find that he's very redundant - like playing Flying Kick in the all superleap deck).  Compare Arena Warrior with the Skin and Darkness Zealots and this guy is lacking.
Armies of the Monarchs
This card is very much along the lines of Arcanowave Reinforces, but with a little twist (I bet you knew that already).  The -1 damage from Unique Characters applies to all players, not just your own, so your opponents might be slowed a little.  Multiples could get annoying.  Armies + a Fanaticism works better than to Reinforcers because of the +1 Fighting (it's huge).  Of course the Architects have Ambush, which is a different kettle of fish. 
Blood Lust
Mark of Fire seems to be the obvious combo with Blood Lust.  You might try it in a few other decks and see how far you get.  I don't think you want to add this and Mark of Fire to any old deck -- you need to think about how Mark is going to work on its own.  Holding an Event until you draw its complement is just going to clog your hand a lot of the time.
Bonebreaker Jun
The Bonebreaker is kind of like General Fung - a decent ratio and ability, but nothing outrageous.  Straight up he's a 4-cost 7 Fighting with Toughness:1, which is about what you'd expect in a unique requiring three resources.  His gravy abilities are playing faceoffs for free and unturning afterwards.  That's actually pretty good, but with the caveat that you are going to have to be playing faceoffs.  He basically goes in two decks -- Thunder Knights and Thunder Faceoff, which is better than going in only one deck.
Butterfly Armor
Notice the designator -- that means all of you Fanaticism junkies out there aren't going to be playing this too much.  But otherwise, it seems a pretty good mid-to-late game card.  Attacking twice is strong, as you all know from the Butterfly Knight.  I am going to guess that you will see 1 or 2 of these dropped into the occasional Monarch "good stuff" deck with Spirit Poles.
Hrm...  Here we have a darkness character with ice and thunder abilities, which is kinda strange, but not unprecedented.  If there is a unique character on the board with 5-6 or less fighting, he sort of becomes a Black Ops Trooper, but otherwise, he is falling a little short on getting a lot of stuff to work.  At a hefty 5 cost, I think he's a little too pricey/specialized to see a lot of play (but I could be wrong)
Contest of Arms
Unlike a few of the other faceoffs, it looks like this one might see play in a wide variety of decks.  You are recycling your own events, so you have a lot of control over it.  While the Monarchs don't have the greatest selection of events, there are the old staples of Brain Fire and Pocket Demon.  For bonus points you can get back Avenging Thunder.  The strength of this card is in multifaction, where you are getting back a power event.  I think Ring of Gates can be played in response to Contest of Arms to cancel it, but with the current level of confusing and erratic rulings, I can't say for sure.
Where's the beef?  Well, I got some for ya right here.  Fakhir's not broken, but he's strong.  You are going to have to watch when you play him so you don't roast your own characters, but he can do a little bit of global damage and toughness:1 is a nice touch of gravy.  You can ensure that he has his toughness when he needs it by packing some Mark of Fires.  You might also be able to get a rebate from playing by dropping a Blood Lust.
Fire Sword
While not outstanding, Fire Sword is just about where you think it should be given the current State power curve.  You might be able to do a few new stupid sword tricks, but I'm thinking that your basic recycling is the way to go (especially at 1 power from a Slo Mo Vengeance).
Ice Pavilion
Wow!  Another Ice healing card!  What will they ever think of next?  Regeneration is nice, but you need to have some moderate sized characters with some damage on them to make it work  It's okay at 7 Body, so it's not overly vulnerable.  I'm thinking that the expected use of this is in the Dra/Mon Red Wedding deck, where you can drop a Brawl right before your turn starts and shrug it off.
Ice Tigers vNew
The new Ice Tigers are an off-beat card.  They can sort of play like a White Disciple, sniping down a character prior to combat.  They also have 4 fighting, which is often just enough to take a softened site.  I think this will wind up being a mix of shark and turtle in the occasional play it will see.  The art by Melissa Benson is very spiffy.
Ring of Ice
This State is much better than it's brethren, the Ring of Silver.  You can put this ring in almost any deck and get some usage out of it.  The only time you want to avoid it is when playing Fanaticism.  Only one resource, a free +1 fighting, and the ability to Smoke a nasty State played on you by an opponent?  Woot!  This is going to be one of the more sought-after rares in Red Wedding.  Even paying 1 power to recycle the Ring of Ice with a Spirit Pole isn't bad bad, and you are most likely doing it to make sure you are protected from states.
Silver Jet vNew
Her Majesty's Secret Warrior is back, and with a vengeance.  The Flashpoint version was quirky, and you could play it for free every now and then, but without an in play ability he was sort of chunky.  This one you've got to pay the full 5 power for, but he's got a couple of good abilities, and then some.  I'm sure you've all played enough to know how good Independent is, as well as Toughness:1.  On top of that you have a hand zapping ability which can be quite useful.  Expect a big target to be placed on Silver Jet when he gets played.  He fits in that strange niche just below the monarchs themselves, along with the Once and Future Champion.
Skin and Darkness Zealots
What's with the all the skin?  These guys feel just about right for a mid-range character.  They have two abilities, neither of which is overpowering, and which can be used offensively.  I expect these guys to whack a lot of Mights and Shih Ho Kauis...
Spend 2 power.  Attack ends.  Boring.  This is a big stopper, and is going to be more a problem in the slow buildup metagame than in our speedy aggressive environment, where having 2 extra power can sometimes cost a premium.  I'm still liking Snowblind over Snowfall -- it's cheap, and stopping one attacker is often enough to bollocks up an attack.
The Thunder Dome
"Two men enter - one man leave!"  The Dome is a Secret HQ with 2 less Body, so it's livable on its own.  You might play it outside a Thunder Faceoff deck, but probably not, since you can just play the aforementioned Secret HQ.  I might consider Thunder Dome if I were trying to make the Legacy work for me since so many of the Thunder cards don't get you anywhere in a splash.  In the Faceoff deck, The Thunder Dome is going to be one of your key cards.  It's going to let you fetch and replay your faceoffs when you need them, and not have them clogging your hand as much.  Another site to consider if you're trying to go for the extreme-Thunder-Faceoff deck deck is the original Thunder Pagoda -- you get an additional Fanaticism, and the limitation of only one attack per turn isn't so bad if you are doing most of your combat via faceoff.
Thunder Apprentice
I'm not terribly happy with this guy.  The Thunder Apprentice is just a mini Thunder Initiate, and not original enough.  Yes, he's going to let you get that much needed magic resource in your Thunder deck, but he's so gimpy.  If I had designed the set, I would have dropped this card and added a magic resource to the Thunder Gladiator so instead of two so-so cards, you had a good card (and not that the Monarchs are lacking for good 1-cost magic providing foundations).  The Huan Ken was always my favorite of the four monarchs, but the ultra-gimpy direction for Thunder has got me thinking twice.
Thunder Gladiator
This card lets you play more bad faceoffs in your deck.  Joy oh-joy.  Staple of the new Thunder Faceoff deck, and that's about it.  Next card please.
This State trashing Event more than makes up for the jankiness of the Thunder cards.  0-cost State removal seems very playable, even if it only works on Character States.  Transmog is a fair Mentor defense, even though it's going to slap some damage on your character.  Like Waterfall Sanctuary, it's also going to be trashing all those useful Weapons and Vehicles that Z-Man has been trying to get you to play with.  I would always play with at least 1 in a Monarch deck just to keep your opponent's honest.
Wedding Gifts
See entry under the Dragons.
Wrath of the Monarchs
Along with Transmogrification, I expect this card to be seen in a lot of decks.  The number one card it's going to trash is Whirlpool of Blood, but there are lots of other sites it's going to smoke as well.  There are also a ton of Monarch characters that this is going to get rid of.  It's more versatile than Sibling Rivalry, which I do occasionally see, but I don't expect to see much after people get a hold of this common.  Wrath of the Monarchs also cancels, so gone is gone.  Don't overlook Netherworld Return, the one event this card stops as well.

Aether Spirit
These guys look to be working for Dr. Celeste Carter.  With only 2 fighting, they are fairly fragile, and will perish in the all too common Final Brawl.  But with Stealth, they have a decent chance of hitting a target site the turn they enter play, which should allow you to break even on them.  Also you don't have to worry about them doing less damage because of tech cards hanging around.  This will probably see the most play is specialized heavy magic decks, and wont have enough juice to make it into a generic Purist/X deck like the Cognitive Spirit will.
Dr. Timbul Damiri
This card does some pretty amazing things.  I'm just going to copy from the Red Wedding FAQ and let you play with the card yourself.

When a card leaves and returns to play, it is considered to be a new card, without any of the baggage it had before. Some uses for Dr. Damiri's ability:

bulletRe-triggering Characters with "enters play" abilities, such as Primus.
bulletSaving a Character from an effect aimed at it. (This won't help against global effects such as Neutron Bomb, just things like Nerve Gas.)
bulletHealing a Character.
bulletMaking a Character stop attacking or intercepting.
bulletRemoving States and other alterations to the Character.
bulletEnding an attack on the Character.
bulletAllowing repeat use of Characters with "once per turn" abilities, such as Mutator.
Echo Cancellation
I really like this card (I haven't seen the Siksada artwork, so my opinion might change).  It's a nice piece of cheese that's going to punish people for the lack of diversity.  It doesn't replace the Purists main trash event, Entropy Sphere, but it does let you cancel some crucial mid-to-late game stuff.  I would worry about this when facing any deck with Purist resources available since it only needed on resource and is eminently splashable.  Note that cards that provide only Talents are not foundations, so you can zap Secret Labs and Lusignan the Fool.  Combining the Guiding Hand with the Purists could be really nasty control wise, with Confucian Stability to handle events, and Echo Cancellation to shut down other cards.
Morphic Spirit
Hint:  Don't play this in your mono-Purist decks.  Since Morphic Spirit doesn't provide magic, you are probably playing it in a deck where the Purists are working with the Lotus, Monarchs or Architects.  Once I get a hold of these, I think one of the first decks I'll make is some weird Pur/Arc deck with Dunwa Saleem and Rhys Engel to see if the Morphic Spirit is really any good.  Even in a two faction deck this Spirit is okay -- I think the trick to making it work will be playing just a couple of off faction cards that are good all on their own *cough Hacker*)
Paradigm Recording
Jumpin' Jiminey!  Three resources makes this tough to play early enough to matter.  What you are probably wanting to grab up is a Shield of Pure Soul or Payback Time -- not only for their effect, but also to stop your opponents from wrecking you with them.  There's not much more to say -- play it in your heavy Purist deck, and grab good Edges as soon as you can.  Whether you play 1 or more Paradigm Recordings will depend on your metagame and just how many Edges are likely to see play in a game.  I'm favoring this card in multiplayer over dueling for what I hope is a fairly obvious reason.
I'm nonplussed by Paradox.  He's what we call a Demonic Tutor (leftover from our old MTG days).  He's going to let you get to your wacky combo card at the hefty price of 2 power and waiting a turn to draw it.  While Paradox is reusable (you will eventually redraw him), his hefty three resource requirement will hamper most speedy combos (and speed is usually big benefit in getting an effective combo to work).  He's also somewhat stoppable, since you can zap him prior to the sacrifice to stop his effect.
The character is mildly usable.  3-cost for 4-fighting with toughness:1 seems about right (if it were a Dragon - it would clearly be broken for the Hand -- see the crud that is Bulletproof Monk if you don't believe me).  By adding Unique and some funky resource requirements, you get to add a couple of possibly useful abilities.  All your other characters (hopefully 1-cost foundations) become Back for Seconds or Beneficial Realignment for Void.  Don't overlook that he's a last ditch Mentor defense that allows you to sacrifice the character that is getting nabbed, but Void has to be turned or damaged, or you can't declare either ability.  Who wants to bet there is going to be a character named Null in the next set?

The Seven Masters

Ho Chen
He's 5 cost for 7 fighting, so he's probably gonna stink.  There are those conspiracy theorists out there that certain members of the design team are going to torpedo the Seven Masters just so as they can be smug about the decision to go with the Purists...

Robbing the Kong
I think this is going to be the darling of the set.  It's going to break a few late game logjams by actually letting someone win.  The big problem with the card will be king-making in tournaments.  I can foresee a lot of times where someone will be able to stop one player's attack, but not the other, giving that 3rd person the ultimate power of life and death as the balance of the universe hinges upon their decision.  If you haven't figured out how to use it, play a big character with superleap (or any other reasonable evasion ability), wait until an opponent declares an attack against another opponent, and sneak it.  Probably not the strongest card in dueling, but you can try it if you like.  Boo on such an important card being rare.

Chi Detachment
Oooh... a State I can play during an opponents' turn?  It must be good, right?  Wrong!  Chi Detachment is marginal at best.  For what you get, more often then not, you would have done just as well with Larcenous Mist (which costs 0).  Once a characters abilities are gone, usually taking it down isn't a problem.  And having to save 1 power for Chi Detachment because you're worried about someone dropping Ba-Boom is not where it's at, hipster.  I don't get removing the resources ability, but I guess that's just extra gravy... wait.. I got it...  you can make the Chi Detachment / Exile Village deck... sweet!

IKTV Special Report
Play this card, gain 2 power.  Pretty basic, isn't it?  There's not a lot to dislike about this card, as it's going to trigger fairly often (especially in multiplayer), and give you a nice little boost.  You don't have to skip normal power generation or worry about having cards in your Burned For Victory pile, so that makes it less of a headache than the usual suspects.  It's common, so you should have enough to spread them in to several decks -- but I'm not sure of how many to play.  I think it will depend on the deck and how power hungry it is, and how many other power generating cards you have in it.
Information Warfare
With a whopping three tech resources required, this card better be awful good... wait, it is!  Information Warfare is going to be royally hosing up your opponents if all goes according to your plans.  About the only dilemma is deciding which opponent to hose the most!  Hopefully you are redirecting one attacking thug to one of your opponents' characters that is just sitting around, picking its nose, with the end result of sending both the smoked pile.  I expect to see Information Warfare used in two major ways -- to stop a win be redirecting the major attacker to a non-FSS card, and to save your own bacon when you are attacked and direct the aggression elsewhere.  I strongly recommend starting off with a strategy of holding this until you are attacked, and then playing at every opportunity -- your opponents will soon learn that they better think twice before sending an attack your directed.  While you can use Information Warfare in dueling, it's not recommended unless you have some real tricks up your sleeve like BuroMil Grunts.
Wave Disrupter
Dude!  Surf's up!.  I just can't get excited over Wave Disrupter, but that's probably because I still have the hots for Information Warfare.  I expect that a reasonable amount of the characters that see regular play will provide 2 more resources, but you can't always depend on it.  This is what you call a balanced card, which means that it's neither really good or really bad, just average.  Wave Disrupter is the cousin of IFF Missiles, which I haven't been able to put to great use, and I think it will be the same for this card.


Battle Arena
This card is schizophrenic -- it's good (well, okay), and it's also really really bad.  Where it's okay is that Battle Arena will allow most of your foundations to win in a faceoff without blinking, letting you enjoy the winner effect.  The bad is that once your opponents have seized these from you, you will never win a faceoff again, leaving you with a hand full of dead cards.  This card is sort of like Orange Senshei chamber -- did it really make Orange Monk playable?  No, and this doesn't make faceoffs playable by itself, either.  Note that if you have one and your opponent has one, they are both a wash -- the toughness:1 exactly offsets the +1 damage.
Since she's only uncommon, the designers must really think that people will want to play with Cassandra all the time, but I won't be.  She's like the Man With No Fashion Sense -- kinda usable, but doesn't quite get you where you need to be.  And can slow you down if things don't go smoothly.  Cassandra is more of a metagame factor than anything else.  In our environment, Cassandra would be used maybe once or twice, then get flattened (more likely once), so you've just spent 2 power to filter your top 5 cards and do 2 damage to a character of your opponents choice.  No big advantage there.  She might be marginally okay in a tower of power, where you are going to get erratic draws -- still, if you are playing her first turn and fishing for resource characters, you're not in a good way.
Exile Village
Well, it's a Drug Lab that will probably only work for you, and not for your opponents, but it's still not worth playing.  If you are playing a 3+ faction deck, you aren't going to want to be playing this anyways, as you are going to be trying to make the faction aligned part of your deck working.  Exile Village is just going to wind up as junk passed around the board, giving respite to the targets that everyone should be attacking if they ever want to win.  For power generation in a Battleground deck, you want the alternate power events, not Exile Village.  Now, say you are playing the janky Peacock deck... maybe, just maybe this will work (in this case, you are trying to run Feng Shui light, and not be a target), but I think you will just stall out (especially without powerful FSS to rely on).  And don't have dreams of having 6+ sites in play -- if you can get away with that, it's time to move up from the bush league into the majors.
Ninja Six
Holy Ninjas Batman!  Ninja Six is pushing the power curve.  For a 3 cost Stealther, you expect to either have a hefty resource requirement, or have crippling disadvantage like the Professional Coaster... err... Professional Killer.  Not only does Ninja Six not require resources, it actually has a pretty bitchin' ability in the right deck.  And by right deck I mean designator jank deck fueled by Police Stations, Twisted Gardens, Fanaticism and their ilk.  You are going to be surprised at just how often you are going to want to put this Ninja into a deck you are making..
Reverend Zebidiah Paine
I'm not at liberty to say what this card was in playtest, but it was a lot more useful.  What we have now is a 3-cost for 4 fighting with a build in Golden Comeback.  It's almost playable, but just not quite there.  Without some useful ability, the Reverend is just a speed bump.  Now, I could be really wrong about this card, depending on the metagame.  It's quite possible in the slow buildup game that having a returning character might get you somewhere, but the Destroyer this guy ain't.  He's only uncommon, so an opponent might be playing Zeb as well, so you need to bone up on your auction skills so you don't wind up toasting your own Reverend.
Secret Pact
This one is pretty much a no brainer.  Too bad it has such a lame name -- this card would have fit perfectly in with the Year of the... cards, helping to fill out the Chinese calendar.  If you haven't figured it out, you will probably want to play 1-2 of these in every multifaction deck.  You'll probably be gaining power, but don't overlook drawing or returning cards to help or hinder a win.  Beware of the Underworld Tracker, for he does not honor Secret Pacts...
Stand Together
Designator Fanaticism -- pretty boring, but still worth playing.  Cops, Hoods and Rebels stick out, but I bet there are a ton -- maybe Spirits?  What other designators are shared across two factions?  D'oh!  Students!  Beating Stick!  Note that this effects all characters so your opponents' characters will get the bonus if they have the magic designator (not to mention all the Mentor bait you're playing).
The Bazaar
This card is okayish, but I don't think you are playing it all the time.  Maybe a couple in big decks to help you filter to cards, but with only 5 Body, you are going to have to defend it.  It's going to be passed around like Bandit Hideout, but The Bazaar isn't really a card to build a deck around like the Hideout is.
The Forest of Fallen Banners
Another jank site.  You can't defend it if you want it to generate power, which means it's not doing as much as you'd like.  I don't think this is as good as either Lusignan's Tower or the Two Dragon Inn, both of which are unaligned sites.  The one exception might be in a Lotus deck where you are returning a lot of characters to play with Inauspicious Return and the Destroyer, so you get to draw some cards.  But,. I think you will wind up drawing only a few cards and get yourself hand locked (not drawing cards normally), especially if someone seizes this (undefended) site.  Kinoshita House is a must with the site, as probably is Fox Pass.  Hrm...  If you want to pull off some ultra-jank, you can use Lodge Machinations to swap this with the back row site at an opponents first column... mmm.... janky...
The Ickies
I kind of like the Ickies -- they are, well, icky.  I wouldn't be playing 5, but maybe 1 or 2 in some decks that aren't going to be playing a FSS every turn.  Stealing that one power can be crucial in slowing down your opponents.  This card is a minor combo with the cards that put you farther from victory, with the Lotus' Glimpse of the Abyss probably being the best, although you can try it with Who Wants Some?!? if you're really manly.  A pretty rude first turn would be, when note going first, drop the The Ickies and a Bandit Hideout, attack a player who has only played a Site and no characters, and then steal their power at the end of the turn!
While this card goes in only a couple of specialized decks, it can be strong when you do pull it off, and it has the potential to get better with every Rebel card printed.  The math works out like this:  3 Power gets you 2 characters back, 4 Power gets you 3 characters, 6 power gets you 4, etc.  I might just have to try it out with The Displaced in my toaster deck, but it's going to take a lot of power and I am going to have to have drawn at least 2 Displaced.  Here is a list of non-unique Rebels/Rabble for your perusal, and watch out for BuroMil Elite!

Guiding Hand:  Black Flag Rebels, Fist of Freedom, Peasant Mob, Rebel Consumer

Jammers:  Buffalo Soldier, Demolitions Expert, Just Another Consumer, Punks, Violence Junkies

Unaligned:  The Dis-Timed, The Displaced, The Faceless, The Ickies, The Losers

Zino the Greek
This guy is pretty dokey.  I think the best use is going to be in a deck with Resistance Squads, Dragon Graveyards and other effects that trigger off of looking at your hand.  You're only going to pull the trick off once, but it'll be pretty funny when you do.  The way the timing works on this card, the pay power and take control happens at resolution, so there is no window where you can cancel the peak effects but not cancel the control effect.

Diamond Beach
Me got Toughness:2  You no hurt Diamond Beach.  CHAR who?  A very marginal site, but it might be okay in a weenie-high metagame if you got a healing effect or two to back it up.  I'll have to try substituting this for Dragon Mountain and Curio Shop in some of my existing decks -- hrm...  you could play 5 Shops and 5 Beaches and 2 Mountains in a ~60 card deck and have the ultimate anti-weenie site structure... I'm going to have to do that.   
Dragon Graveyard
As for being an extra-power generating site, this guy is at the bottom.  I guess it's okay if you get to play at least 1 per game in response to a peaky effect, but I don't see that happening.  You will probably gain 1 power once, and 2 power if you are lucky.  I guess you can try Dragon Graveyard in the Primeval Forest deck where you are healing sites left and right.
Escher Hotel
Mostly Battleground jank.  It's Unique, so you don't want to overload on them (not that you'll have that many because it's rare).  I guess you are hoping to play some defensive sites like Puzzle Garden, and then stick something like a Bandit Hideout (or even better yet, a Festival Circle) in your back row and get away with it.  It's still not very reliable, and it will all fall apart if your opponents take down the Hotel.  Here's the list of stuff that can combo with it (Ital indicates a combo that I think is unusual, interesting or somewhat comical):

18 Bronze Men, Arcanoseed, Bandit Hideout, Blood Fields, BuroMil Elite, Cave of a Thousand Banners, Comrades in Arms, Eagle Mountain, Elevator to the Netherworld, Entropy Sphere, Festival Circle, Forty Story Inferno, Fox Pass, Free Fire Zone, Killing Ground, Kung Fu Student, Locksley Station, Mad Bomber, No Man's Land, Ominous Swamp, Ornamental Garden, Portal in Tower Square, Rainforest River, Resistance is Futile, Sniper's Nest, Temple of the Shaolin Dragon, The Dragon Throne, The Home Front, Tick... Tick... Tick..., Training Camp, Zodiac Lounge

Stone Dolmens
Hoses Mentor.  Period.  Not as good as Waterfall Sanctuary, but goes in some decks (especially if you are like me, and keep running out of Waterfalls).  There are a couple of other annoying States this gets rid of, from Avenging Fire to Resistance Is Futile!  Like the Spirals, this has a respectable 8 Body, so it's got a little D.  You probably don't want to play this in a deck with Shadowy Mentors, since Stone Dolmens won't be controllable with Whirlpools like Waterfall Sanctuary it (you opponent waits until the end of your turn, declares Dolmens, you turn your Whirlpool, they start their turn, declare Dolmens again, and you lose).
Stone Spirals
This is a variation on Mobius Gardens.  I'm thinking it's not as good, just because Red Wedding has so many power generating Events, which are going going to make the Gardens better.  It's also a metagame card -- if one of your opponents always plays Family Estate or Proving Grounds, then try it out and see if Stone Spirals works for you (getting two into play could really make that PG player think twice).    Time will tell, at least its got 8 Body to keep it in play for a while.



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